International Mobility Program (IMP)- LMIA Exempt

Employers can hire temporary workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) or the International Mobility Program (IMP). The IMP lets employers hire foreign workers who bring broader economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada or offer reciprocal benefits for Canadians and permanent residents. Under this category, employers do not have to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) but the foreign national still needs a work permit in most cases.


A work permit without an LMIA may be issued pursuant an agreement between the Canadian government and one or more other countries or Provinces/Territories.

International Free Trade Agreements

There are several free trade agreements between Canada and one or more other countries that have provisions to bring in foreign workers without having to apply for an LMIA.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for instance, there are four categories under which a foreign worker may be issued a work permit without an LMIA:

  • Business Visitors (work permit exempt as well)
  • Professionals
  • Intra-company transferees
  • Traders and Investors

The Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). CETA covers the following categories that are  LMIA exempt:

  • Business visitors and business visitors for investment purposes (work permit exempt as well)
  • Investors
  • Independent professionals and contractual service suppliers
  • Intra-corporate (company) transferees

Other trade agreements are:

  • Canada-Chile FTA / Canada-Peru FTA / Canada-Colombia FTA / Canada-Korea FTA
  • General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
  • Canada–Panama Free Trade Agreement
  • Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

Canada-International Non-Trade Agreements

Under IMP there are various international non-trade agreements that allow individuals to work in Canada short-term.  For example, airline personnel and performing artists can work in Canada without applying for an LMIA.

Provincial and Territorial Agreements

Individuals can apply for a work permit without needing an LMIA when for instance they have a certificate of nomination of one of the Provinces.

Canadian Interests

Work permits may also be issued when the work:

  • would create or maintain significant social, cultural, or economic benefits or opportunities for Canadian Citizens or permanent residents (significant benefit work permit);
  • would create or maintain reciprocal employment of Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada in other countries (reciprocal work permit);
  • is designated as being work being  related to a research program, or is an essential part of a post-secondary study or program or related to the competitiveness of Canada’s academic institutions or economy (academic or research work permit); or
  • is of religious or charitable nature (charitable or religious work permit)

Each work permit has its own requirements, procedures and guidelines.

Significant benefit work permit

This category allows requesting a work permit due to extraordinary circumstances of a particular situation. Under this category, in certain situations or depending on the type of operation, entrepreneurs or self-employed persona can be issued a work permit. Also, Intra-company transferees with specialized knowledge or as an executive manager can obtain a work permit without an LMIA.  Emergency repair personnel and repair personnel for out-of-warranty can be granted a work permit under this category.

Reciprocal Work Permit Category

This category allows foreign workers to work in Canada when Canadians have been given the similar opportunities abroad. The employer must demonstrate that reciprocity exists or will exist. A more formal program is the International Experience Class.

Open Work Permit Category

The open spousal work permit and the post-graduate work permit are two notable examples of this category.

Religious or charitable worker work permit category

Religious and charitable workers can apply for a work permit under this category.  A work permit is needed even if the work is not paid.

More info

You can find more information about LMIA exempt work permits, application forms and employers’ responsibilities on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s International Mobility Program web page.  If you want our assistance in bringing a foreign worker to Canada contact us.